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LATEST NEWS

  • Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

French government agency for assisting job seekers falls victim to massive data breach

France Travail, a government department responsible for registering and helping unemployed individuals, has become the latest casualty of a major data breach that has compromised the personal information of potentially 43 million citizens.



On Wednesday, France Travail announced that it had notified the country's data protection watchdog, CNIL, about an incident where a significant amount of personal information dating back two decades was exposed. The breached data includes names, dates of birth, social security numbers, France Travail identification details, email addresses, postal addresses, and phone numbers.


Fortunately, passwords and banking information were not affected, at least for now. CNIL has warned that the stolen data from this breach could be combined with data from other breaches, creating larger databases of information on individuals. While it is unclear if the entire contents of the database were stolen, the statement suggests that at least some data was extracted.


According to the translated statement, "The illicitly extracted database contains the personal identification data of currently registered individuals, individuals who were previously registered over the past 20 years, as well as individuals who are not registered job seekers but have a candidate space on francetravail.fr. This potentially exposes the personal data of 43 million people." The Cybercrime Brigade of the Paris Judicial Police Department is leading the investigation into the breach, which took place between February 6 and March 5.


French citizens are advised to remain vigilant against phishing attempts in the coming days, weeks, and months. It is also recommended to ensure strong and secure passwords to mitigate any potential risks. Joe Hancock, head of the cybersecurity and investigations practice at Mishcon de Reya, expressed concerns about the stolen data, stating, "This data, which includes personal identity information, social security numbers, and physical addresses, could be valuable for identity theft and fraud.


However, it is often difficult to directly link a breach to actual harm, and individuals may never know if they have been affected." The details of how the attack occurred are not yet clear, aside from reports that the attackers posed as members of Cap Emploi, a similar department that assists disabled individuals seeking employment. This suggests that the breach may have involved a combination of social engineering and technical tactics.


France Travail is now faced with the enormous challenge of directly notifying the affected individuals through email or other means and has sincerely apologized for the incident. The agency acknowledges the constant concern for data security and vows to strengthen its protection systems, procedures, and instructions in light of the growing threat of cyberattacks.


This breach is another blow to France Travail, which previously experienced a data compromise incident last year at a service provider, affecting an estimated 10 million French citizens.

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